Monday, September 27, 2010

What Happened to the Anti-War Left?

Liberalism has an extensive history of being anti-interventionist in foreign policy. But as this Presidency rolled around, and perhaps even a little before then, liberals weren't so anti-war anymore. Justin Raimondo, of, describes the situation he had with a leftist friend:
In conversation with a progressive friend of mine the other day, I had occasion to hear a valid criticism of my writing: why, he asked me, do you limit yourself to attacking the left on the war question, why not praise them when they’re doing something right? This is a paraphrase, and not a word for word quotation, but you get the idea: an entirely negative critique, given the left’s storied history of anti-interventionism, is not entirely fair.

However, it is precisely because of the long, heroic tradition of left-wing anti-imperialism that I tend to get a bit bitchy when it comes to the contemporary record, which hardly measures up. When I hear that United For Peace and Justice, the major antiwar coalition controlled by Communist party types, has basically dissolved itself – at a time when the US is fighting two and a half wars, with a third in the making – I tend to suspect they’re just not that into it, as the saying goes. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that their hero, President Obama, is the one fighting the wars now, and without George W. Bush to demonize anymore, the fight has gone out of them.

Read the rest here.

Sneaky: The Obamacare Provision Regulating Gold

This could be the shortest blog post ever, asking only one question: Why is there a provision on regulating gold in a health care bill?

But I will further express my anguish over these new details about the Obamacare bill being brought to light.

Thomas Sowell's recent article alerted me to this provision:
One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read.

I never understood politicians who slip in these unrelated provisions into a much larger bill that is likely to get passed.

One can be for Obamacare--not me personally--but against the regulation of gold and be put in a very tight situation: "Do I go against the bill because of the gold provision? Or do I go for the Obamacare bill and cramp the liberties of gold owners?"

Seriously, it was a massive bill that no one read - and now that its details are coming to light people are going to see how slick and insidious the left can be.

What happened to the old left? The one that didn't encroach people's liberties.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Libertarian Views of Law: Killing Kid Start-Ups

A young Arizonian entrepreneur saw a problem in his community and decided to fix it. There were too many rats in his community and he decided to help his community for a fee. In this next example of bootstrap capitalism you will learn about Christian Alf and how he was temporarily put out of work by city regulators.

It is a continuation of last week's theme: Regulations that keep people from making a living the best and sometimes only way they know how.

Teen Entrepreneur Wins Case in Tempe, Arizona

This week I decided to examine a press release (web release) titled “Teenage Entrepreneur Wins Fight Against BereaucRATS: Christian Alf allowed to go back to work rat-proofing roofs.”

This web release discussed the legal problems surrounding a high school student that decided to “rat-proof” roofs in Tempe, Arizona. Rats seem to be a major problem in that city, and pest control businesses profit from “rat-proofing” consumers houses and properties. However, Christian Alf, the teen entrepreneur who was temporarily put out of business by the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission, was receiving over 200 calls for his services—and the local pest control commission reacted to protect pest control businesses, not consumers.

The issue at hand was whether Mr. Alf’s unlicensed pest control work was legal as defined by state law. Although, performing unlicensed pest control work may result in a $1,000 fine, Mr. Alf’s work was completely legal.

Lisa Gervase, the Pest Control Commission’s executive director, “has determined that the limited, specific facts of this matter do not constitute the business of structural pest control.”

The Commission reversed its earlier position that Mr. Alf must have a license to do his work.

According to Tim Keller, the Institute for Justice Attorney on the case, the Commission “exceed[ed] its legitimate regulatory authority” and “there was no rational basis to require Christian [Alf] to obtain a pest control license.”

I agree.

Commission’s standards require potential licensees to read a 500 page scientific guide to pest control operations. Within its pages it says they (the commission workers) should “take every opportunity to educate building owners as to the importance of building maintenance and encourage them to seal holes and cracks in doors and windows and around pipes and wiring.”

I have two remarks.

First, this suggests that homeowners are encouraged to fix their own homes. It would be absurd to suggest that homeowners should be condemned for fixing their own homes, work that can be done by any man, woman, or capable child in the home. If homeowners are encouraged by the pest control commission to maintain their home, then why is it such a big deal if they hire a kid to do it? What does it matter if this kid is a nephew and they pay him for it (similar to how my family paid me for fixing little things around the house) and a non-family member--next door, or across town, or in the next county--that gets paid?

The logical extension is even more preposterous to condemn. What about people who don't have licenses to cut grass? Should agricultural commissions file claims against little 14 year old Johnny Doe just because he is taking a few mowing jobs from lawn mowing companies? What if all the Christian Alfs of the world were no longer allowed to offer their grass-cutting services--their cheaper services--to their neighbors because the local lawn mowing companies wanted "protection."

I remember when my mom asked me to cut my neighbor's grass. Now imagine if I wasn't allowed to do so. "Sorry kid, you have to have a license. I can clearly see that you cut your parent's grass, and you did it well, but the law says..."

What about all that money I was making going around the neighborhood on snow days? What if some agency decided I couldn't clean my neighbor's driveways? Instead, my neighbors would have to hire some high-cost professional.

This was the only work I could do as a child. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed cutting grass. I enjoyed clearing driveways. I enjoyed being able to save and buy stuff with the money I earned. It helped build character. Who would be so evil as to want to take away all those great benefits from a child? The answer: Regulators.

To punish Mr. Alf would set a bad precedent in the courts that could hurt young people by taking away low-wage jobs that build character and responsibility and savings.

[Update 11/1/10: I actually found out that children entrepreneurs are free to do lawn work.]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Obama Supporter Backlash!!!

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"I'm one of your middle class Americans, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting sir, I'm waiting. And I don't feel it yet." ~A frustrated Obama Supporter

Although I didn't vote for Obama, and I didn't expect his policies to work, which is different from saying I don't support him at all, I can completely understand where this woman is coming from. She was offered one thing and given another; promised a pony - one that would grow and gallop into the dawn of economic recovery - and given a python - a really nasty python that even bites back sometimes. The rhetoric is confronting the reality, and, man, I wouldn't want to be the general when all my tired, desperate, exasperated soldiers are thinking about mutiny.

And it never helps the general to laugh at his soldiers desperate plea, like Obama does in this town hall meeting. It may cause more disillusionment and stir more anger.

Note to self: When running for office, take all questions seriously and show compassion. Do not laugh at those who support you, nor at those who do not.

Sobering Lessons from Post WWI Germany

In this sobering and enlightening essay, Jim Powell argues that "Germans have had much more in common with Americans than we might realize."

The similarities are so striking, in fact, that if we were to keep certain proper nouns unidentifiable we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Post-WWI Germany and the United States today:

During World War I, the German government expanded rapidly and gained pervasive control over the economy. This was the "war socialism" that inspired Lenin and his comrades in Russia. After the war, the German government retained most of its costly bulk. Municipalities were subsidized by it; similarly, many of today's financially hard-pressed states are lobbying Washington for bailouts. There were government-run pensions not unlike the unfunded pension liabilities our federal and state governments are struggling with. The German government provided health insurance for increasing numbers of people. It supported 1.5 million disabled veterans. It subsidized artists. There were government theaters and government opera houses. The government owned many businesses, including those producing margarine and sausages, and they lost money. Government-owned railroads were bankrupt because, among other things, freight rates weren't increased fast enough to cover soaring costs. All those programs were aggressively defended by interest groups who benefited from them.

What is scary about Germany's past situation is the social collapse. When people who are unprepared to survive an economic crisis turn to immorality just to survive; stealing from those who have effectively prepared for the crisis:
Farmers tried to keep the food they produced, rather than give it up for worthless paper money. That led hungry city people and gangs of unemployed coal miners to plunder farms.

As this crisis continues to unfold, I pray for the Lord's blessing and protection not only for myself, but for others as well.

"Republicans Joined the Tea Party" says Paul

Rather than saying the Tea Parties are joining the Republican Party, Ron Paul says the Republicans, in their desperation, are joining the Tea Parties as a strategic maneuver.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eric Rauch on the Definition of "Liberalism"

In a recent critique of Bill Maher, Eric Rauch defines what he thinks liberalism really is:
All forms of liberalism—whether educational, political, or theological—are nothing more than reactions against “traditional” beliefs and ways of doing things. Like atheism, liberalism is a negative belief system in that it can only ever communicate what it is against, instead of what it is for.

Do you agree?

He also offers praise for Maher and Limbaugh for doing a valuable community service:
When interpreters—like Maher and Limbaugh—break down the “newspeak” of the political talking machine into the vernacular and street language of the average American voter, they are performing a needed community service.

I agree, and get the point, although I have never listened to one broadcast of Limbaugh. I have, however, heard many sound bites on TV.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is Glenn Beck a Socialist? And not a Libertarian?

Phil Maymin, author of Free Your Inner Yankee, a book that I have never heard of until now, wrote a highly-critical review of Glenn Beck's philosophy. "Who is Glenn Beck, Really?" he essentially asks: a socialist. In fact, Beck is "so deep-seated in [socialism] that he doesn’t even realize it.

He has more than two riffs with Beck, but I'll quote only two important passages. Maymin has trouble agreeing with Beck. He explains here:
I had three problems with Beck’s show. The first is that he provides the right conclusions but he gets there with the wrong arguments. This is extraordinarily frustrating to watch. Suppose you like a girl, or a boy. Or you find a particular religious text magnificent. Then imagine how you would feel hearing someone praise your girl or boy, or your religious text, but for all the wrong reasons. You want to simultaneously object and agree. Yes, the object of your heart is wonderful, but not at all in that way. "Thumbelina is beautiful. She is so tall!" Huh?

And the other:
Let’s just have it out in the open, he says, and let the people decide.

And that’s where he is most wrong. Some things are absolutely not up to the people to decide. If a majority voted to execute an innocent person without due process, that is wrong. If they voted for genocide, that is wrong. Morality and majority vote are not the same thing.

But Beck thinks they are. And that’s where he reveals his statism and his socialism. Majority vote is the very basis of socialism. But true libertarians know that even 95 percent of a county can be wrong. And the important fight is to win the war in the hearts and minds of people with truth and actual engagement of the details, not sweeping things under the rug, arguing about slippery slopes, or playing clips of a handful of people.

Libertarian Views of Law: Why You Can't Legally Braid Your Neighbor's Hair

The Curious Case of Taalib-Din Abdul Uqdah v. District of Columbia

This week I decided to examine a case dealing with overregulation of the hair braiding industry in Washington, DC. The plaintiff, Taalib-Din Abdul Uqdah, and his wife Pamela Ferrell, owned and operated Cornrows & Co. This business was dedicated to braiding hair and creating hairstyles that traced back to African roots (no pun intended).

The business comprised of workers who were without cosmetology licenses and also of low economic class.

However, the workers were able to receive training to do complex African hairstyles without the financial burden of going to a cosmetology school that they may not have been able to afford—the Uqdah's trained their employees themselves. As Institute for Justice’s website states, this business was an excellent example of “bootstrap capitalism.” That is, a person or group of persons collaborated and started a business and within years it was successful. In fact, it was so successful that it generated over $10,000 in taxes.

However, the Board of Cosmetology of the District of Columbia sought to impose an antiquated 1938 regulation on the business, which would have stifled business, if not closed it completely.

The regulations imposed are also the antithesis of African hairstyling, as the workers would have had to take an examination on hairstyles that are irrelevant to the job and have been out of style for more than 40 years.

The regulations would have also have proved to be expensive, as they would also have to attend a certified cosmetology school for thousands of dollars. Even if all the employees could afford to attend the schools, the time the business didn’t have the employees working could have effectively shut it down due to the lack of revenues—or at least taken a hit in the wallet.

In December of 1992, the DC City Council repealed the cosmetology regulations.

This case was an example of regulations that has the potential to inadvertently (or maybe advertently) destroy employment, destroy low-cost training opportunities for low-skilled individuals, and kill business. The requirement to have the hair salon licensed, the training program licensed, and its braiders licensed would have proven costly as well as wasteful. In fact, they would have been required to take a practical (hands-on) and written test on things such as chemicals (which aren’t even used by African hairstylists).

In a subtle way it reminds me of the United States, et al. v City of New York case where potential firefighters had to take an examination that tested skills unrelated to the profession. These skills were lacked by many of the Latino and Black applicants, but not by the whites, thus the non-whites' failure to pass the test perpetuated the racial imbalances in the profession. In a similar way, the majority of the hairstyling profession would be comprised of stylists who only knew about styles acknowledged at one time in history, who prefer one type of look, worn mostly by one racial group, rather than those with more modern hair styling techniques, if the regulators got their way.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Libertarian Views of Law: Sarbanes-Oxley Act

One thing that I learned about law is that sometimes it is created as a reaction to recent events that cause uproar. Many times the politicians feel that they have to do something to correct some social or political ill. After all, the politicians are here to help us, right? The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was created as a response to the economic crisis of 2008 and the perceived threats of the future. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was passed because those who supported it thought it was going to prevent a depression.

What marvelous foresight! Not only are we entering Great Depression level unemployment, neither of these packages seemed to help.

When law is made in this way (rushed, with unclear objectives, and misunderstands problems, often having unintended effects) sometimes it can be disastrous for those it is intended to help. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is such an act. The SOA was a response to the scandals of Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom in the early 2000s. Many of its supporters said it would “restore investor confidence” in U.S. Financial Markets.

I have my own reasons for disagreeing.

First, the SOA had an unintended effect: it drove business outside of the United States. In fact, the number of American companies deregistering from the U.S. stocked exchange tripled a year after the law was passed. Also, I think that the SOA by its very nature couldn’t “restore investor confidence” in U.S. companies. After all, the companies that were problematic are essentially out of business, or at least took a hit. This is the natural way the free-market chooses what a priority is: Investors choose away from bad firms.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Democrats Busted by Thomas Sowell

So much for blaming all of our economic woes on George Bush. Thomas Sowell explains:
The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama "inherited" the big federal budget deficits and that he has to "clean up the mess" left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny.

No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

And here is the kicker:
Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.

What makes this article so genius, and makes Democrats seem so desperate and dimwitted at the same time, is what he reveals about the Clinton Administration:
The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.

So although a Clinton is largely credited with the budget surpluses, it was the Republican House that led him through. You won't be hearing that from the Democrats.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Case for Falling for Prices in a Growing Economy

A few weeks ago I made the following claim:

I didn't plan to go into detail, but in free-market economies prices go down, wages go up, and standards of living go up. This is contrary to what other schools of economic thought believe. Don't believe the myth that says that "capitalism necessarily requires permanently low-wages to be successful." It is a lie and anti-capitalist propaganda.

Here is the real-life evidence:

This is what Henry Ford did with the Model T. He constantly lowered the price of the Model T, and in doing so, he increased demand. This increase in demand let him adopt new techniques of mass production. He was then able to purchase raw materials, transportation services, and other factors of production at ever-lower prices. The one thing he did not cut was wages. In 1914, he increased wages in order to gain a steady labor force. Immediately, absenteeism disappeared. Nobody wanted to lose his job at the Ford Motor Company, so everybody showed up at work on time. Nobody quit if he didn't have to. He wanted to keep his job. So, for a system of mass production, Ford cut the cost of production per unit, lowered the price of the model T, and raised the income of workers who showed up on time.

In 2002, Less than Zero: The Case For Falling Prices in a Growing Economy covered this very topic. It is available on as well as the Mises Store. Now ask yourself, why are the prices of every good and service going up? Are we growing?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Joel McDurmon on the Discovery Channel Bomber

On the day of the Discovery Channel building's perimeter infiltration by the homeless environmentalist nut James Lee, I posted an inquiry on my facebook status asking what are the man's grievances. Soon after that posting a friend commented and left a link to James Lee's blog for all curious eyes to see.

As I read through the entire thing I cackled, as best as I could through type, this response:
I just read his blog...and he mentioned DARWIN LOL!!! Christian Conservatives are going to have a BALL with that one! He called religion filth. He is, essentially, utilitarian - and extreme one who believe that humans overpopulate the world and need to take measures to cut back on human excess....nice!

A few days later I was proved right. A Christian conservative, Joel McDurmon, M.Div, Reformed Theological Seminary, produced this classic essay. In it he argued, and basically proved, that there was little media uproar about his causes because, well, they are the leftist media's causes anyway. He also took on my home state's--Maryland--gun laws, which are, in both his view and mine, pretty stupid. Above all, he exposes the inconsistency in the moral philosophies of those with non-Christian world views. There is so much in this essay (Margaret Sanger's Racism and Darwinian Motivations, Douglas Wilson on Hitchens, the intellectual embarrassment of the Eugenics movement when Hitler adopted its principles, the gunman's promotion of Malthus via Ishmael) that it can't be discussed here. However, that's what the essay is for. (Reason's Hit & Run blog also linked a review of Ishmael via this post)

I'll quote two prescient passages:
You see a woman thrown to the ground in the street by a man or two men and kicked hard in the stomach—kicked in the uterus. What is your instant reaction? Is it one of revulsion? Or not? Who is going to say they are indifferent? You are welcome to do so if you like. Do you need divine permission for this? I would say not. I would add another question. The woman is visibly pregnant. Does that make it seem more revolting to you? Is your revulsion thereby increased? Who would not say yes to that?

Hitchens almost whispers that last sentence with nearly sanctimonious concern. Wilson interjects into the rhetorical emotion. Who would dare not be revolted by an assault on a fetus?

“Planned Parenthood.”

Hitchens accuses him of being “flippant”—in this case, using an extreme example of crime as a parallel to the “accepted” medical practice of abortion. But Doug presses the point[...]

And the second passage:
Lee himself was the product of the very programming he wished to implement—Malthusianism and Darwinism force-fed throughout American education. But worse yet, his desired Discovery programming is already aired in public schools, universities, public radio and television, and in many, many other places, including United Nations propaganda, Bill Gates, etc.

If you want a free copy of the book mentioned in Joel McDurmon's footnote, Killer Angel, then click here:

Killer Angel

If you want a free copy of a debate between Hitchens and Wilson, then go here:

Hitchens vs. Wilson (Is Christianity Good for the World)

And how did a homeless man get all that heavy artillery anyway? The things that make you wonder.

WCF Chapter One "Of Holy Scripture" Sunday School (Sept.-Oct. 2021)

Our text for Sunday School (also "The Confession of Faith and Catechisms") Biblical Theology Bites What is "Biblical Theology...